THE DEEP: HUMILITAS
experiments in seeing
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“[T]he question stands in the most intrinsic connection to the task of overcoming aesthetics, i.e. overcoming a particular conception of beings – as objects of representation”
Heidegger (Contributions to Philosophy)
De-framing: experiments in seeing interrogates the elements of the visual field as it is experienced by the gaze and configured by the photographic image. Positioned at the centre of the Humilitas project, this series considers the possibility of a humble image, an image that invites attentive viewing, seeking to expand our seeing beyond the frame. This is an open image, one where the subject's presence is loosened or softened in a muddying of foregrounds, midgrounds and backgrounds intended to delay the viewer's concrete reading. In a play of focal planes and limit states of visibility, the imaged subjects stand, diffuse or fall away.
De-framing employs the 250 mm f/ 5.6 Hasselblad Sonnar lens model used by Nasa in the pioneering 1968 photographs of the earth rising over the moon. The reason I chose this lens was not so as to bring the subject closer to the eye, but for the depth-of-field possibilities offered by its optics (4 elements in 3 groups). For example, images # 5 and 6 of the series aim to achieve a pictorial effect that, inspired by Claude Monet's renditions of light as it falls fleetingly on trees and prairies, invites a seeing that approximates an impression. *
Can the humble be drawn out through imaging?
What is the style of humility, of restraint, of ascesis?
Is there space for intervention in the humble image?
How can I open up the frame?
What elements can be loosened, undone?
Seeing afresh the illegible, the unintelligible, the formless
The events of nature are sudden and fleeting - one must be ready
Actuality, question, synthesis
I need to still - before I can see
To spend time with the world before me, before it forms into an image
For the image to reflect that formative experience back to the viewer
What does the humble leave behind? The question of intention
The act of showing
Humilitas evolves out of The Deep R&D and feeds back into the forthcoming production of The Deep moving image installation.
* I refer to the following paintings by Claude Monet: Autumn Effect at Argenteuil (1873); The Meadow (1879); Fields in the Spring (1887); A Bend in the Epte River (1888); Poplars on the Epte (1891); Poplars on the Bank of the Epte River (1891); Spring Meadow (Giverny) (1894).
Images: De-framing: experiments in seeing #1-6, Humilitas series, 2023. C-type prints from medium format film, 100 x 100 cm.
Humilitas is conceived from research and development for The Deep, funded by Creative Scotland. The project has been further researched and is being produced in residence at CAN Farrera, Catalan Pyrenees, with the support of the Art and Nature Award. Funded by: CAN (Centre Art i Natura, Farrera). In partnership with Centre d' Art La Panera and supported by Ajuntament de Lleida. Photographic post-production at Copia Lab and Rebel.lab Barcelona, and Metro Imaging London. The artist thanks The Tàpies Foundation and Pompeu Fabra University for access to research resources. Year of Production: 2023.